FREEDOM OR ANARCHY,Campaign of Conscience.

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The Free Thought Project,The Daily Sheeple & FREEDOM OR ANARCHY Campaign of Conscience are dedicated to holding those who claim authority over our lives accountable. “Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.”
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” - George Orwell, 1984

"Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained... now everywhere is war." - - Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia - Popularized by Bob Marley in the song War

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The World Needs a Policeman, and There Is No Alternative to America

The World Needs a Policeman, and There Is No Alternative to America




When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, it was on a platform of lowering America’s international profile and not trying to solve all the world’s problems.

“I’m not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world saying, ‘This is the way it’s got to be,’ ” Bush argued in a debate with Al Gore. He would be extremely reluctant to deploy US military forces, he said, and saw no need for America to concern itself with nation-building abroad.

That was a popular point of view in 2000. In opinion polls at the time, majorities said the United States “should mind its own business internationally.” When Gallup asked if America should or should not take the “leading role” among countries trying to solve global problems, 55 percent answered: should not.

But after 9/11, Bush reversed course. The quasi-isolationism he had favored vanished overnight, to be replaced by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a worldwide campaign against Islamist terrorism, and an assertive “freedom agenda” aimed at democratizing the Middle East.

Yet the longer those conflicts persisted, the more Americans recoiled from the role of world policeman. Bush and his foreign policy grew steadily more unpopular. By 2008, his approval rating had sunk to 25 percent and Barack Obama was running for president as the anti-Bush, promising to pull the troops out, end US intervention, and focus on “nation-building here at home.”

With the emergence of a new Obama doctrine, American foreign policy grew more deferential and self-effacing. In practice, that meant being more tolerant of brutal regimes and less inclined to support their victims. Obama refused to encourage pro-democracy protesters in Iran, to enforce a “red line” against chemical warfare in Syria, to resist Russian aggression in Ukraine, or to thwart China’s encroachments against its neighbors.

For much of his presidency, Obama’s program of retreat enjoyed Americans’ support. As late as 2014, according to the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of the public continued to say that America had done “too much” in trying to solve the world’s problems. But as it became ever clearer that Obama’s policies were making the world more dangerous, the pendulum began swinging back. Over the past four years, there has been a 21-point drop in the share of Americans wanting a more isolationist foreign policy, while those saying the United States does too little on the global stage have climbed from 17 percent of the public to 33 percent.

The shift has been especially notable among Democrats. Since the election of Donald Trump on an explicit “America First” platform, the number of Democrats saying the United States is doing too little to better the world has more than doubled, from 22 percent to 48 percent.

Of course it is risky to read too much into public-opinion soundings. Still, Americans — whether recoiling from the Obama-era philosophy of “leading from behind” or from Trump’s nationalist isolationism — do seem once again to be rediscovering the hard truth that, in world affairs, the United States is irreplaceable. As long as the United States remains the world’s most powerful democracy, it cannot safely shirk the job of global policeman — deterring aggression, upholding the rule of law, defending human rights. When it tries to do so, the planet’s worst actors are emboldened.

Americans have changed their mind about Bush. Ten years after he left the White House, a majority now approve of the job he did as president, and his favorability rating has climbed above 60 percent. But Bush’s views haven’t changed. In a speech last week, he reiterated the case for US leadership.

“America is indispensable for the world,” said the former president. “The dangers of isolation loom.” He quoted Churchill’s admonition that, as the foremost nation on earth, America could not avoid being “convulsed” by the world’s problems: “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Americans cannot right every wrong, and we have not always acted with prudence. Nevertheless, the world needs a policeman, and there is no realistic candidate for that job except the United States. Retreating into isolation may sound appealing; the results are invariably awful. Americans sometimes forget that lesson, until reality re-teaches it the hard way.


Jeff Jacoby

The World Needs a Policeman, and There Is No Alternative to America




When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, it was on a platform of lowering America’s international profile and not trying to solve all the world’s problems.

“I’m not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world saying, ‘This is the way it’s got to be,’ ” Bush argued in a debate with Al Gore. He would be extremely reluctant to deploy US military forces, he said, and saw no need for America to concern itself with nation-building abroad.

That was a popular point of view in 2000. In opinion polls at the time, majorities said the United States “should mind its own business internationally.” When Gallup asked if America should or should not take the “leading role” among countries trying to solve global problems, 55 percent answered: should not.

But after 9/11, Bush reversed course. The quasi-isolationism he had favored vanished overnight, to be replaced by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a worldwide campaign against Islamist terrorism, and an assertive “freedom agenda” aimed at democratizing the Middle East.

Yet the longer those conflicts persisted, the more Americans recoiled from the role of world policeman. Bush and his foreign policy grew steadily more unpopular. By 2008, his approval rating had sunk to 25 percent and Barack Obama was running for president as the anti-Bush, promising to pull the troops out, end US intervention, and focus on “nation-building here at home.”

With the emergence of a new Obama doctrine, American foreign policy grew more deferential and self-effacing. In practice, that meant being more tolerant of brutal regimes and less inclined to support their victims. Obama refused to encourage pro-democracy protesters in Iran, to enforce a “red line” against chemical warfare in Syria, to resist Russian aggression in Ukraine, or to thwart China’s encroachments against its neighbors.

For much of his presidency, Obama’s program of retreat enjoyed Americans’ support. As late as 2014, according to the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of the public continued to say that America had done “too much” in trying to solve the world’s problems. But as it became ever clearer that Obama’s policies were making the world more dangerous, the pendulum began swinging back. Over the past four years, there has been a 21-point drop in the share of Americans wanting a more isolationist foreign policy, while those saying the United States does too little on the global stage have climbed from 17 percent of the public to 33 percent.

The shift has been especially notable among Democrats. Since the election of Donald Trump on an explicit “America First” platform, the number of Democrats saying the United States is doing too little to better the world has more than doubled, from 22 percent to 48 percent.

Of course it is risky to read too much into public-opinion soundings. Still, Americans — whether recoiling from the Obama-era philosophy of “leading from behind” or from Trump’s nationalist isolationism — do seem once again to be rediscovering the hard truth that, in world affairs, the United States is irreplaceable. As long as the United States remains the world’s most powerful democracy, it cannot safely shirk the job of global policeman — deterring aggression, upholding the rule of law, defending human rights. When it tries to do so, the planet’s worst actors are emboldened.

Americans have changed their mind about Bush. Ten years after he left the White House, a majority now approve of the job he did as president, and his favorability rating has climbed above 60 percent. But Bush’s views haven’t changed. In a speech last week, he reiterated the case for US leadership.

“America is indispensable for the world,” said the former president. “The dangers of isolation loom.” He quoted Churchill’s admonition that, as the foremost nation on earth, America could not avoid being “convulsed” by the world’s problems: “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Americans cannot right every wrong, and we have not always acted with prudence. Nevertheless, the world needs a policeman, and there is no realistic candidate for that job except the United States. Retreating into isolation may sound appealing; the results are invariably awful. Americans sometimes forget that lesson, until reality re-teaches it the hard way.


Jeff Jacoby



The Age of Petty Tyrannies




The Age of Petty Tyrannies


Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”—Simone Weil, French philosopher and political activist
We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the name of the national good by an elite class of government officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions. 
We, the middling classes, are not so fortunate.
We find ourselves badgered, bullied and browbeaten into bearing the brunt of their arrogance, paying the price for their greed, suffering the backlash for their militarism, agonizing as a result of their inaction, feigning ignorance about their backroom dealings, overlooking their incompetence, turning a blind eye to their misdeeds, cowering from their heavy-handed tactics, and blindly hoping for change that never comes. 
The overt signs of the despotism exercised by the increasingly authoritarian regime that passes itself off as the United States government are all around us: warrantless surveillance of Americans’ private phone and email conversations by the NSA; SWAT team raids of Americans’ homes; shootings of unarmed citizens by police; harsh punishments meted out to schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance; drones taking to the skies domestically; endless wars; out-of-control spending; militarized police; roadside strip searches; roving TSA sweeps; privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans; fusion centers that collect and disseminate data on Americans’ private transactions; and militarized agencies with stockpiles of ammunition, to name some of the most appalling.
Yet as egregious as these incursions on our rights may be, it’s the endless, petty tyrannies inflicted on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace that occasionally nudge a weary public out of their numb indifference and into a state of outrage. 
Consider, for example, that federal and state governments now require on penalty of a fine that individuals apply for permission before they can grow exotic orchids, host elaborate dinner parties, gather friends in one’s home for Bible studies, give coffee to the homeless, let their kids manage a lemonade stand, keep chickens as pets, or braid someone’s hair, as ludicrous as that may seem.
A current case before the Supreme Court, Niang v. Tomblinson strikes at the heart of this bureaucratic exercise in absurdity that has pushed overregulation and overcriminalization to outrageous limits. This particular case is about whether one needs a government license in order to braid hair.
Missouri, like many states across the country, has increasingly adopted as its governing style the authoritarian notion that the government knows best and therefore must control, regulate and dictate almost everything about the citizenry’s public, private and professional lives.
In Missouri, anyone wanting to braid African-style hair and charge for it must first acquire a government license, which at a minimum requires the applicant to undertake at least 1500 hours of cosmetology classes costing tens of thousands of dollars.
In Oregon, the law is so broad that you need a license even if you’re planning to braid hair for free. The mere act of touching someone’s hair can render you a cosmetologist operating without a license and in violation of the law.
In Iowa, you can be sentenced with up to a year in prison for braiding hair without having attended a year of cosmetology school.
It’s not just hair braiding that has become grist for the overregulation mill.
Almost every aspect of American life today—especially if it is work-related—is subject to this kind of heightened scrutiny and ham-fisted control, whether you’re talking about aspiring “bakers, braiders, casket makers, florists, veterinary masseuses, tour guides, taxi drivers, eyebrow threaders, teeth whiteners, and more.”
For instance, whereas 70 years ago, one out of every 20 U.S. jobs required a state license, today, almost 1 in 3 American occupations requires a license
The problem of overregulation has become so bad that, as one analyst notes, “getting a license to style hair in Washington takes more instructional time than becoming an emergency medical technicianor a firefighter.”
This is what happens when bureaucrats run the show, and the rule of law becomes little more than a cattle prod for forcing the citizenry to march in lockstep with the government.
Overregulation is just the other side of the coin to overcriminalization, that phenomenon in which everything is rendered illegal and everyone becomes a lawbreaker.
This is the mindset that tried to penalize a fisherman with 20 years’ jail time for throwing fish that were too small back into the water.
John Yates, a commercial fisherman, was written up in 2007 by a state fish and wildlife officer who noticed that among Yates’ haul of red grouper, 72 were apparently under the 20-inch minimum legal minimum. Yates, ordered to bring the fish to shore as evidence of his violation of the federal statute on undersized catches, returned to shore with only 69 grouper in the crate designated for evidence.
A crew member later confessed that, on orders from Yates, the crew had thrown the undersized grouper overboard and replaced them with larger fish. Unfortunately, they were three fish short.
Sensing a bait-and-switch, prosecutors refused to let Yates off the hook quite so easily. Unfortunately, in prosecuting him for the undersized fish under a law aimed at financial crimes, government officials opened up a can of worms. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court in a rare (and narrow) flash of reason, sided with Yates, ruling that the government had overreached.
That same overcriminalization mindset reared its ugly head again when police arrested a 90-year-old man for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding the homeless in public.
Arnold Abbott, 90 years old and the founder of a nonprofit that feeds the homeless, faced a fine of $1000 and up to four months in jail for violating a city ordinance that makes it a crime to feed the homeless in public
Under the city’s ordinance, clearly aimed at discouraging the feeding of the homeless in public, organizations seeking to do so must provide portable toilets, be 500 feet away from each other, 500 feet from residential properties, and are limited to having only one group carry out such a function per city block. 
Abbott had been feeding the homeless on a public beach in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., every Wednesday evening for 23 years. On November 2, 2014, moments after handing out his third meal of the day, police reportedly approached the nonagenarian and ordered him to “‘drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,” recalls Abbott. Abbott was arrested and fined. Three days later, Abbott was at it again, and arrested again.
It’s no coincidence that both of these incidents—the fishing debacle and the homeless feeding arrest—happened in Florida.
This is also the state that arrested Nicole Gainey for free-range parenting when she let her 7-year-old son walk to the park alone, even though it was just a few blocks from their house. If convicted, Gainey could have been made to serve up to five years in jail
Despite its pristine beaches and balmy temperatures, Florida is no less immune to the problems plaguing the rest of the nation in terms of overcriminalization, incarceration rates, bureaucracy, corruption, and police misconduct. 
In fact, the Sunshine State has become a poster child for how a seemingly idyllic place can be transformed into a police state with very little effort. As such, it is representative of what is happening in every state across the nation, where a steady diet of bread and circuses has given rise to an oblivious, inactive citizenry content to be ruled over by an inflexible and highly bureaucratic regime.
Just a few years back, in fact, Florida officials authorized police raids on barber shops in minority communities, resulting in barbers being handcuffed in front of customers, and their shops searched without warrants. All of this was purportedly done in an effort to make sure that the barbers’ licensing paperwork was up to snuff.
As if criminalizing fishing, charity, parenting decisions, and haircuts wasn’t bad enough, you could also find yourself passing time in a Florida slammer for such inane activities as singing in a public place while wearing a swimsuit, breaking more than three dishes per day, farting in a public place after 6 pm on a Thursday, and skateboarding without a license.
This transformation of the United States from being a beacon of freedom to a locked down nation illustrates perfectly what songwriter Joni Mitchell was referring to when she wrote:
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
Only in our case, sold on the idea that safety, security and material comforts are preferable to freedom, we’ve allowed the government to pave over the Constitution in order to erect a concentration camp. 
The problem with these devil’s bargains, however, is that there is always a catch, always a price to pay for whatever it is we valued so highly as to barter away our most precious possessions.
We’ve bartered away our right to self-governance, self-defense, privacy, autonomy and that most important right of all—the right to tell the government to “leave me the hell alone.”
In exchange for the promise of safe streets, safe schools, blight-free neighborhoods, lower taxes, lower crime rates, and readily accessible technology, health care, water, food and power, we’ve opened the door to militarized police, government surveillance, asset forfeiture, school zero tolerance policies, license plate readers, red light cameras, SWAT team raids, health care mandates, overcriminalization, overregulation and government corruption.
In the end, such bargains always turn sour.
We asked our lawmakers to be tough on crime, and we’ve been saddled with an abundance of laws that criminalize almost every aspect of our lives. So far, we’re up to 4500 criminal laws and 300,000 criminal regulations that result in average Americans unknowingly engaging in criminal acts at least three times a day. For instance, the family of an 11-year-old girl was issued a $535 fine for violating the Federal Migratory Bird Act after the young girl rescued a baby woodpecker from predatory cats.
We wanted criminals taken off the streets, and we didn’t want to have to pay for their incarceration. What we’ve gotten is a nation that boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2.3 million people locked up, many of them doing time for relatively minor, nonviolent crimes, and a private prison industry fueling the drive for more inmates, who are forced to provide corporations with cheap labor.
A special report by CNBC breaks down the national numbers:
One out of 100 American adults is behind bars — while a stunning one out of 32 is on probation, parole or in prison. This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy. The states and the federal government spend about $74 billion a year on corrections, and nearly 800,000 people work in the industry.
We wanted law enforcement agencies to have the necessary resources to fight the nation’s wars on terror, crime and drugs. What we got instead were militarized police decked out with M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers, battle tanks and hollow point bullets—gear designed for the battlefield, more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year (many for routine police tasks, resulting in losses of life and property), and profit-driven schemes that add to the government’s largesse such as asset forfeiture, where police seize property from “suspected criminals.” 
Justice Department figures indicate that as much as $4.3 billion was seized in asset forfeiture cases in 2012, with the profits split between federal agencies and local police. According to the Washington Post, these funds have been used to buy guns, armored cars, electronic surveillance gear, “luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.” Police seminars advise officers to use their “department wish list when deciding which assets to seize” and, in particular, go after flat screen TVs, cash and nice cars.
In Florida, where police are no strangers to asset forfeiture, Florida police have been carrying out “reverse” sting operations, where they pose as drug dealers to lure buyers with promises of cheap cocaine, then bust them, and seize their cash and cars. Over the course of a year, police in one small Florida town seized close to $6 million using these entrapment schemes. 
We fell for the government’s promise of safer roads, only to find ourselves caught in a tangle of profit-driven red light cameras, which ticket unsuspecting drivers in the so-called name of road safety while ostensibly fattening the coffers of local and state governments. Despite widespread public opposition, corruption and systemic malfunctions, these cameras—used in 24 states and Washington, DC—are particularly popular with municipalities, which look to them as an easy means of extra cash.
One small Florida town, population 8,000, generates a million dollars a year in fines from these cameras. Building on the profit-incentive schemes, the cameras’ manufacturers are also pushing speed cameras and school bus cameras, both of which result in heft fines for violators who speed or try to go around school buses.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is what happens when the American people get duped, deceived, double-crossed, cheated, lied to, swindled and conned into believing that the government and its army of bureaucrats—the people we appointed to safeguard our freedoms—actually have our best interests at heart.
Yet when all is said and done, who is really to blame when the wool gets pulled over your eyes: you, for believing the con man, or the con man for being true to his nature?
It’s time for a bracing dose of reality, America.
Wake up and take a good, hard look around you, and ask yourself if the gussied-up version of America being sold to you—crime free, worry free and devoid of responsibility—is really worth the ticket price: nothing less than your freedoms.



The Age of Petty Tyrannies


Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”—Simone Weil, French philosopher and political activist
We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the name of the national good by an elite class of government officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions. 
We, the middling classes, are not so fortunate.
We find ourselves badgered, bullied and browbeaten into bearing the brunt of their arrogance, paying the price for their greed, suffering the backlash for their militarism, agonizing as a result of their inaction, feigning ignorance about their backroom dealings, overlooking their incompetence, turning a blind eye to their misdeeds, cowering from their heavy-handed tactics, and blindly hoping for change that never comes. 
The overt signs of the despotism exercised by the increasingly authoritarian regime that passes itself off as the United States government are all around us: warrantless surveillance of Americans’ private phone and email conversations by the NSA; SWAT team raids of Americans’ homes; shootings of unarmed citizens by police; harsh punishments meted out to schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance; drones taking to the skies domestically; endless wars; out-of-control spending; militarized police; roadside strip searches; roving TSA sweeps; privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans; fusion centers that collect and disseminate data on Americans’ private transactions; and militarized agencies with stockpiles of ammunition, to name some of the most appalling.
Yet as egregious as these incursions on our rights may be, it’s the endless, petty tyrannies inflicted on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace that occasionally nudge a weary public out of their numb indifference and into a state of outrage. 
Consider, for example, that federal and state governments now require on penalty of a fine that individuals apply for permission before they can grow exotic orchids, host elaborate dinner parties, gather friends in one’s home for Bible studies, give coffee to the homeless, let their kids manage a lemonade stand, keep chickens as pets, or braid someone’s hair, as ludicrous as that may seem.
A current case before the Supreme Court, Niang v. Tomblinson strikes at the heart of this bureaucratic exercise in absurdity that has pushed overregulation and overcriminalization to outrageous limits. This particular case is about whether one needs a government license in order to braid hair.
Missouri, like many states across the country, has increasingly adopted as its governing style the authoritarian notion that the government knows best and therefore must control, regulate and dictate almost everything about the citizenry’s public, private and professional lives.
In Missouri, anyone wanting to braid African-style hair and charge for it must first acquire a government license, which at a minimum requires the applicant to undertake at least 1500 hours of cosmetology classes costing tens of thousands of dollars.
In Oregon, the law is so broad that you need a license even if you’re planning to braid hair for free. The mere act of touching someone’s hair can render you a cosmetologist operating without a license and in violation of the law.
In Iowa, you can be sentenced with up to a year in prison for braiding hair without having attended a year of cosmetology school.
It’s not just hair braiding that has become grist for the overregulation mill.
Almost every aspect of American life today—especially if it is work-related—is subject to this kind of heightened scrutiny and ham-fisted control, whether you’re talking about aspiring “bakers, braiders, casket makers, florists, veterinary masseuses, tour guides, taxi drivers, eyebrow threaders, teeth whiteners, and more.”
For instance, whereas 70 years ago, one out of every 20 U.S. jobs required a state license, today, almost 1 in 3 American occupations requires a license
The problem of overregulation has become so bad that, as one analyst notes, “getting a license to style hair in Washington takes more instructional time than becoming an emergency medical technicianor a firefighter.”
This is what happens when bureaucrats run the show, and the rule of law becomes little more than a cattle prod for forcing the citizenry to march in lockstep with the government.
Overregulation is just the other side of the coin to overcriminalization, that phenomenon in which everything is rendered illegal and everyone becomes a lawbreaker.
This is the mindset that tried to penalize a fisherman with 20 years’ jail time for throwing fish that were too small back into the water.
John Yates, a commercial fisherman, was written up in 2007 by a state fish and wildlife officer who noticed that among Yates’ haul of red grouper, 72 were apparently under the 20-inch minimum legal minimum. Yates, ordered to bring the fish to shore as evidence of his violation of the federal statute on undersized catches, returned to shore with only 69 grouper in the crate designated for evidence.
A crew member later confessed that, on orders from Yates, the crew had thrown the undersized grouper overboard and replaced them with larger fish. Unfortunately, they were three fish short.
Sensing a bait-and-switch, prosecutors refused to let Yates off the hook quite so easily. Unfortunately, in prosecuting him for the undersized fish under a law aimed at financial crimes, government officials opened up a can of worms. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court in a rare (and narrow) flash of reason, sided with Yates, ruling that the government had overreached.
That same overcriminalization mindset reared its ugly head again when police arrested a 90-year-old man for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding the homeless in public.
Arnold Abbott, 90 years old and the founder of a nonprofit that feeds the homeless, faced a fine of $1000 and up to four months in jail for violating a city ordinance that makes it a crime to feed the homeless in public
Under the city’s ordinance, clearly aimed at discouraging the feeding of the homeless in public, organizations seeking to do so must provide portable toilets, be 500 feet away from each other, 500 feet from residential properties, and are limited to having only one group carry out such a function per city block. 
Abbott had been feeding the homeless on a public beach in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., every Wednesday evening for 23 years. On November 2, 2014, moments after handing out his third meal of the day, police reportedly approached the nonagenarian and ordered him to “‘drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,” recalls Abbott. Abbott was arrested and fined. Three days later, Abbott was at it again, and arrested again.
It’s no coincidence that both of these incidents—the fishing debacle and the homeless feeding arrest—happened in Florida.
This is also the state that arrested Nicole Gainey for free-range parenting when she let her 7-year-old son walk to the park alone, even though it was just a few blocks from their house. If convicted, Gainey could have been made to serve up to five years in jail
Despite its pristine beaches and balmy temperatures, Florida is no less immune to the problems plaguing the rest of the nation in terms of overcriminalization, incarceration rates, bureaucracy, corruption, and police misconduct. 
In fact, the Sunshine State has become a poster child for how a seemingly idyllic place can be transformed into a police state with very little effort. As such, it is representative of what is happening in every state across the nation, where a steady diet of bread and circuses has given rise to an oblivious, inactive citizenry content to be ruled over by an inflexible and highly bureaucratic regime.
Just a few years back, in fact, Florida officials authorized police raids on barber shops in minority communities, resulting in barbers being handcuffed in front of customers, and their shops searched without warrants. All of this was purportedly done in an effort to make sure that the barbers’ licensing paperwork was up to snuff.
As if criminalizing fishing, charity, parenting decisions, and haircuts wasn’t bad enough, you could also find yourself passing time in a Florida slammer for such inane activities as singing in a public place while wearing a swimsuit, breaking more than three dishes per day, farting in a public place after 6 pm on a Thursday, and skateboarding without a license.
This transformation of the United States from being a beacon of freedom to a locked down nation illustrates perfectly what songwriter Joni Mitchell was referring to when she wrote:
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
Only in our case, sold on the idea that safety, security and material comforts are preferable to freedom, we’ve allowed the government to pave over the Constitution in order to erect a concentration camp. 
The problem with these devil’s bargains, however, is that there is always a catch, always a price to pay for whatever it is we valued so highly as to barter away our most precious possessions.
We’ve bartered away our right to self-governance, self-defense, privacy, autonomy and that most important right of all—the right to tell the government to “leave me the hell alone.”
In exchange for the promise of safe streets, safe schools, blight-free neighborhoods, lower taxes, lower crime rates, and readily accessible technology, health care, water, food and power, we’ve opened the door to militarized police, government surveillance, asset forfeiture, school zero tolerance policies, license plate readers, red light cameras, SWAT team raids, health care mandates, overcriminalization, overregulation and government corruption.
In the end, such bargains always turn sour.
We asked our lawmakers to be tough on crime, and we’ve been saddled with an abundance of laws that criminalize almost every aspect of our lives. So far, we’re up to 4500 criminal laws and 300,000 criminal regulations that result in average Americans unknowingly engaging in criminal acts at least three times a day. For instance, the family of an 11-year-old girl was issued a $535 fine for violating the Federal Migratory Bird Act after the young girl rescued a baby woodpecker from predatory cats.
We wanted criminals taken off the streets, and we didn’t want to have to pay for their incarceration. What we’ve gotten is a nation that boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2.3 million people locked up, many of them doing time for relatively minor, nonviolent crimes, and a private prison industry fueling the drive for more inmates, who are forced to provide corporations with cheap labor.
A special report by CNBC breaks down the national numbers:
One out of 100 American adults is behind bars — while a stunning one out of 32 is on probation, parole or in prison. This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy. The states and the federal government spend about $74 billion a year on corrections, and nearly 800,000 people work in the industry.
We wanted law enforcement agencies to have the necessary resources to fight the nation’s wars on terror, crime and drugs. What we got instead were militarized police decked out with M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers, battle tanks and hollow point bullets—gear designed for the battlefield, more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year (many for routine police tasks, resulting in losses of life and property), and profit-driven schemes that add to the government’s largesse such as asset forfeiture, where police seize property from “suspected criminals.” 
Justice Department figures indicate that as much as $4.3 billion was seized in asset forfeiture cases in 2012, with the profits split between federal agencies and local police. According to the Washington Post, these funds have been used to buy guns, armored cars, electronic surveillance gear, “luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.” Police seminars advise officers to use their “department wish list when deciding which assets to seize” and, in particular, go after flat screen TVs, cash and nice cars.
In Florida, where police are no strangers to asset forfeiture, Florida police have been carrying out “reverse” sting operations, where they pose as drug dealers to lure buyers with promises of cheap cocaine, then bust them, and seize their cash and cars. Over the course of a year, police in one small Florida town seized close to $6 million using these entrapment schemes. 
We fell for the government’s promise of safer roads, only to find ourselves caught in a tangle of profit-driven red light cameras, which ticket unsuspecting drivers in the so-called name of road safety while ostensibly fattening the coffers of local and state governments. Despite widespread public opposition, corruption and systemic malfunctions, these cameras—used in 24 states and Washington, DC—are particularly popular with municipalities, which look to them as an easy means of extra cash.
One small Florida town, population 8,000, generates a million dollars a year in fines from these cameras. Building on the profit-incentive schemes, the cameras’ manufacturers are also pushing speed cameras and school bus cameras, both of which result in heft fines for violators who speed or try to go around school buses.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is what happens when the American people get duped, deceived, double-crossed, cheated, lied to, swindled and conned into believing that the government and its army of bureaucrats—the people we appointed to safeguard our freedoms—actually have our best interests at heart.
Yet when all is said and done, who is really to blame when the wool gets pulled over your eyes: you, for believing the con man, or the con man for being true to his nature?
It’s time for a bracing dose of reality, America.
Wake up and take a good, hard look around you, and ask yourself if the gussied-up version of America being sold to you—crime free, worry free and devoid of responsibility—is really worth the ticket price: nothing less than your freedoms.


We’re All Trespassers Now in the Face of the Government’s Land Grabs


We’re All Trespassers Now in the Face of the Government’s Land Grabs“


No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent.” — John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States
We have no real property rights.
Think about it. 
That house you live in, the car you drive, the small (or not so small) acreage of land that has been passed down through your family or that you scrimped and saved to acquire, whatever money you manage to keep in your bank account after the government and its cronies have taken their first and second and third cut…none of it is safe from the government’s greedy grasp.
At no point do you ever have any real ownership in anything other than the clothes on your back.
Everything else can be seized by the government under one pretext or another (civil asset forfeiture, unpaid taxes, eminent domain, public interest, etc.).
The American Dream has been reduced to a lease arrangement in which we are granted the privilege of endlessly paying out the nose for assets that are only ours so long as it suits the government’s purposes.
And when it doesn’t suit the government’s purposes? Watch out.
This is not a government that respects the rights of its citizenry or the law. Rather, this is a government that sells its citizens to the highest bidder and speaks to them in a language of force.
Under such a fascist regime, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which declares that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation,” has become yet another broken shield, incapable of rendering any protection against corporate greed while allowing the government to justify all manner of “takings” in the name of the public good.
As journalist Eric Williamson notes, “From controversial projects such as President Donald Trump’s border wall and the gas pipelines, to more mundane works such as road expansion, just about any project deemed in the public interest can mean taking your property is fair game.”
Practically anything goes now.
It’s been 13 years since the U.S. Supreme Court took up the case of Kelo v. City of New London, which expanded the government’s limited power to acquire private lands in order to build a public structure like a school or highway for “public use” and allowed it to make seizures for a “public purpose,” which in the government’s eyes can mean anything as long as it amounts to higher tax revenue.
In Kelo, the City of New London, Conn., wanted to condemn private homes as “blighted” in order to tear them down and allow a developer to build higher-priced homes, a resort hotel, a conference center and retail complexes to complement a new Pfizer pharmaceutical plant in the area. Ironically, the developers in New London later backed out of the deal after the homes were seized and bulldozed, leaving the once quaint neighborhood a wasteland.
Nevertheless, a shortsighted Supreme Court gave city officials the go-ahead, ruling 5-4 that a city government—aligned with large corporate interests—could use the power of eminent domain to seize an entire neighborhood for development purposes, entire neighborhoods have been seized and bulldozed to make way for shopping malls, sports complexes and corporate offices.
The specter of condemnation hangs over all property,” warned Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in a stinging dissent. “Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”
Unfortunately, nothing has prevented the government from bulldozing its way through the Fifth Amendment in an effort to take from the middle and lower classes and fatten the coffers of the corporate elite.
In the wake of Kelo, at least 16 places of worship (which pay no taxes) were taken for private uses (which will generate tax dollars). Other attempted takings include the transfer of three family-owned seafood businesses to a larger private marina in Texas; the transfer of farmland to a shopping center anchored by a Lowe’s in Illinois; developing 233 low-income and elderly families’ properties into a senior community where townhouses cost more than $350,000 in New Jersey; and developing middle-income, single-family homes on the waterfront into more expensive condominiums in New Jersey.
Even Donald Trump has taken advantage of eminent domain, in one instance attempting to take an elderly woman’s house to make way for a limousine parking lot.
As an investigative report by the Institute for Justice notes, over the course of five years, local governments used eminent domain to lay claim to more than 10,000 homes, businesses, churches and private land for private business development, including condemning a family’s home so that the manager of a planned new golf course could live in it; evicting four elderly siblings from their home of 60 years for a private industrial park; and removing a woman in her 80s from her home of 55 years supposedly to expand a sewer plant, only to turn around and give her home to an auto dealership.
Fast forward to the present day, and you’ve got the government’s pipeline projects as a prime example of eminent domain being employed for corporate gain.
All across the country, power companies have been given the green light to build massive gas and oil pipelines that crisscross the country, cutting through private and public lands, as well as unspoiled wilderness.
“Yet despite oft-repeated claims by politicians and oil executives about the danger of relying on foreign oil, this U.S. petroleum renaissance never was designed to make America energy self-sufficient,” points out journalist Sandy Tolan. “A growing amount of that oil will end up in China, Japan, the Netherlands, even Venezuela.”
So much for the public use, huh?
These pipeline projects which are getting underway in a dozen states have stirred up a hornet’s nest of protests, most notably in Standing Rock, North Dakota, where activists attempting to block the completion of Dakota Access Pipeline were subjected to militarized police, riot and camouflage gear, armored vehicles, mass arrests, pepper spray, tear gas, drones, less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force, rubber bullets, water cannons, concussion grenades, arrests of journalists, intimidation tactics, and brute force.
Not all of the protests that have arisen in response to these pipeline projects hinge on environmental concerns, which are significant in and of themselves in light of water and ground contamination due to leaks and spills. Some of the protesters are landowners, simple farmers and homeowners who merely want the government and its corporate partners-in-crime to keep their grubby paws off their personal property.
In Virginia, activists have taken to tree sitting—living for weeks on end in platforms suspended above the ground in trees—as a form of protest over the devastation that is being wrought by these pipelines.
These acts of civil disobedience come at a costly price.
Pipeline and forestry officials have been working hard to make life as difficult as possible for the protesters, allegedly blocking their access to food and water and medical supplies, shining floodlights into the trees at all hours of the night, creating ground disturbances to dislodge their nests, and urging the courts to levy heavy fines for each day that the work to clear the forests for the pipeline is delayed.
Here’s what one resident of Roanoke, Va., wrote to me about the manner in which the Mountain Valley Pipeline is being inflicted on his community:
Our small community has been invaded by private security and a fully militarized local police department. Some families up here have land grants from the King, predating the formation of the Commonwealth. Mountain Valley Pipeline has begun cutting trees and has brought in private military contractors similar to what was used in North Dakota. MVP is only offering to pay pennies on the dollar. They are basically using the power of government to steal this land for private profit. What has ensued was the county positioning a mobile command center right across from my restaurant, and scores of police in full tactical dress being deployed. They wasted no time in hooking up with the MVP private security and a long list of offenses then began against the residents and land owners of Bent Mountain, who now find themselves subject to arrest for walking in their own driveway, taking pictures of the pipeline companies ever-changing survey lines and path of destruction, or in more than one case, for confronting MASKED ARMED MEN ON THEIR PROPERTY IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT. It is AMAZING that nobody has been shot yet! One of my neighbors was accosted on his own back porch by police for photographing the MVP surveyors continually moving the corridor of their easement. I have even had armed private security trespassing on my property miles away in neighboring Floyd County. I am all for infrastructure. However, I am not for the taking of people's private land for profit, using the force and power of government, far outside of the bounds of the Constitution.
It takes a lot of gall to trespass onto someone’s private property, tear up their land, cut down their trees, pollute their air and water, prevent them from moving freely on their own property, threaten them with fines and arrests for challenging the intrusion, and then force them to pay (by way of taxes) to retain ownership of the property or sell it cheaply or at a loss so it can be torn down and used for some purpose that the government deems more beneficial to its bottom line.
That’s how little respect the government has for our rights.
It used to be that you could post a “No Trespassing” sign on your property to send the message that no one could venture onto your private property without your permission. As the Tennessee Supreme Court recognized in State v. Christensen, “a homeowner who posts a ‘No Trespassing’ sign is simply making explicit what the law already recognizes: that persons entering onto another person’s land must have a legitimate reason for doing so or risk being held civilly, or perhaps even criminally, liable for trespass.”
Unfortunately, American taxpayers have become trespassers on their own property thanks to the government’s ongoing land grabs and utter disregard for property rights.
So much for that whole pipedream about one’s home being one’s castle.
When it comes right down to it, the right to property is the first—and last—right, and perhaps the most inherent. The undermining and dissolution of this critical right may well prove to be one of the few things to rouse the American people to action. 
As polls show, Americans have been willing to accept limitations on their rights to free speech, privacy and due process, as well as other important freedoms, in exchange for the phantom promise of security. 
Yet whether they live in a modest two-bedroom walkup in the Bronx or a mansion in Bel Air, Americans have not been quite as willing to barter away their right to property. In this way, we are not so far removed from the revolutionary spirit that saw a ragtag assortment of colonists standing up to the military might of Great Britain.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence marked a new beginning for our nation. It signaled a shift in the balance of power from one in which the people served an elite ruling class to one in which government was instituted to serve the people. The government’s role would not be to create or define the people’s inherent rights but rather to guarantee their protection.
As the Declaration states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The Declaration, which embodied all the passion, outrage and noble ideals of the day, could easily have ended there. But the Founders understood that in order for the newly born nation to survive, it would need more than revolutionary sentiment. It would require a government that existed to serve the people, not itself, and a contract to guarantee basic liberties and bind the union together.
Thus was the U.S. Constitution born in the summer of 1787. It sprang forth from the experiences of a revolutionary generation, still wary of the strong arm of government. And from that wariness came the Bill of Rights. 
The first ten amendments to our Constitution are intended as a blueprint to keep the government in its place, off our backs and away from our property. 
For early Americans, the right to own property was fundamental to all other rights.
Mind you, the term “property” is much more fundamental and personal than just with land ownership. It refers to a kind of sovereignty over one’s life and possessions—especially one’s money.
Again, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” 
Property is grouped in the same category as life and liberty in the Fifth Amendment because it is difficult to enjoy life and liberty without the stability, security and assurances that property provides. Private property, at a minimum, checks governmental power for it provides the citizen a right of space where even government agents cannot intrude without proper authority.
At its core, the American dream is about gaining sovereignty over one’s life and property. Without this sovereignty—this unshakeable guarantee of ownership and dominion, even over one’s own life—there can be no true liberty or freedom. 
This most sacred of rights is under siege.
More than 200 years after early Americans went to war over their right to life, liberty and property, “we the people” have been reduced to little more than serfs in bondage, indentured servants, and sharecroppers.
If the government can tell you what you can and cannot do within the privacy of your home, whether it relates to what you eat, what you smoke or whom you love, you’re not the King or Queen in your little castle. 
If government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you no longer have any property interests in your home.
If school officials can punish your children for what they do or say while at home or in your care, your children are not your own—they are the property of the state.
If government agents can invade your homebreak down your doorskill your dog, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family, your property is no longer private and secure—it belongs to the government.
Likewise, if police can forcefully draw your bloodstrip search you, and probe you intimately, your body is no longer your own, either.
This is what a world without true property rights looks like, where the lines between private and public property have been so blurred that private property is reduced to little more than something the government can use to control, manipulate and harass you to suit its own purposes, and you the homeowner and citizen have been reduced to little more than a tenant in bondage to an inflexible landlord.
In other words, we’re slaves.
If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.
You’re not free if the government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes.
You’re not free if government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing.
And you’re certainly not free if the IRS gets the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.
After all, a government that doesn’t respect the rights of its citizens will have even less regard for their property, be it land, money or personhood.
So where does that leave us?
Battling for our lives, liberties and property.
Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American Peoplethe battle to protect our private property has become the final constitutional frontier, the last holdout against our freedoms being usurped.
Questions about who has ultimate control over our money, how much of it can be claimed by government and how it gets spent go to the heart of the battle over property rights.
Remember, governments generate no wealth on their own. Any resources that they have at their disposal have been appropriated from the original producers of that wealth, the citizens.
This fundamental truth has largely been downplayed over the years, because the government doesn’t want us to remember that it exists to serve at our pleasure and for our common good.
Yet any government that ceases to serve this function risks being declared illegitimate.
It happened once before.
It can happen again.
All it takes is the right spark to start a revolution.


We’re All Trespassers Now in the Face of the Government’s Land Grabs“


No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent.” — John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States
We have no real property rights.
Think about it. 
That house you live in, the car you drive, the small (or not so small) acreage of land that has been passed down through your family or that you scrimped and saved to acquire, whatever money you manage to keep in your bank account after the government and its cronies have taken their first and second and third cut…none of it is safe from the government’s greedy grasp.
At no point do you ever have any real ownership in anything other than the clothes on your back.
Everything else can be seized by the government under one pretext or another (civil asset forfeiture, unpaid taxes, eminent domain, public interest, etc.).
The American Dream has been reduced to a lease arrangement in which we are granted the privilege of endlessly paying out the nose for assets that are only ours so long as it suits the government’s purposes.
And when it doesn’t suit the government’s purposes? Watch out.
This is not a government that respects the rights of its citizenry or the law. Rather, this is a government that sells its citizens to the highest bidder and speaks to them in a language of force.
Under such a fascist regime, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which declares that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation,” has become yet another broken shield, incapable of rendering any protection against corporate greed while allowing the government to justify all manner of “takings” in the name of the public good.
As journalist Eric Williamson notes, “From controversial projects such as President Donald Trump’s border wall and the gas pipelines, to more mundane works such as road expansion, just about any project deemed in the public interest can mean taking your property is fair game.”
Practically anything goes now.
It’s been 13 years since the U.S. Supreme Court took up the case of Kelo v. City of New London, which expanded the government’s limited power to acquire private lands in order to build a public structure like a school or highway for “public use” and allowed it to make seizures for a “public purpose,” which in the government’s eyes can mean anything as long as it amounts to higher tax revenue.
In Kelo, the City of New London, Conn., wanted to condemn private homes as “blighted” in order to tear them down and allow a developer to build higher-priced homes, a resort hotel, a conference center and retail complexes to complement a new Pfizer pharmaceutical plant in the area. Ironically, the developers in New London later backed out of the deal after the homes were seized and bulldozed, leaving the once quaint neighborhood a wasteland.
Nevertheless, a shortsighted Supreme Court gave city officials the go-ahead, ruling 5-4 that a city government—aligned with large corporate interests—could use the power of eminent domain to seize an entire neighborhood for development purposes, entire neighborhoods have been seized and bulldozed to make way for shopping malls, sports complexes and corporate offices.
The specter of condemnation hangs over all property,” warned Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in a stinging dissent. “Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”
Unfortunately, nothing has prevented the government from bulldozing its way through the Fifth Amendment in an effort to take from the middle and lower classes and fatten the coffers of the corporate elite.
In the wake of Kelo, at least 16 places of worship (which pay no taxes) were taken for private uses (which will generate tax dollars). Other attempted takings include the transfer of three family-owned seafood businesses to a larger private marina in Texas; the transfer of farmland to a shopping center anchored by a Lowe’s in Illinois; developing 233 low-income and elderly families’ properties into a senior community where townhouses cost more than $350,000 in New Jersey; and developing middle-income, single-family homes on the waterfront into more expensive condominiums in New Jersey.
Even Donald Trump has taken advantage of eminent domain, in one instance attempting to take an elderly woman’s house to make way for a limousine parking lot.
As an investigative report by the Institute for Justice notes, over the course of five years, local governments used eminent domain to lay claim to more than 10,000 homes, businesses, churches and private land for private business development, including condemning a family’s home so that the manager of a planned new golf course could live in it; evicting four elderly siblings from their home of 60 years for a private industrial park; and removing a woman in her 80s from her home of 55 years supposedly to expand a sewer plant, only to turn around and give her home to an auto dealership.
Fast forward to the present day, and you’ve got the government’s pipeline projects as a prime example of eminent domain being employed for corporate gain.
All across the country, power companies have been given the green light to build massive gas and oil pipelines that crisscross the country, cutting through private and public lands, as well as unspoiled wilderness.
“Yet despite oft-repeated claims by politicians and oil executives about the danger of relying on foreign oil, this U.S. petroleum renaissance never was designed to make America energy self-sufficient,” points out journalist Sandy Tolan. “A growing amount of that oil will end up in China, Japan, the Netherlands, even Venezuela.”
So much for the public use, huh?
These pipeline projects which are getting underway in a dozen states have stirred up a hornet’s nest of protests, most notably in Standing Rock, North Dakota, where activists attempting to block the completion of Dakota Access Pipeline were subjected to militarized police, riot and camouflage gear, armored vehicles, mass arrests, pepper spray, tear gas, drones, less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force, rubber bullets, water cannons, concussion grenades, arrests of journalists, intimidation tactics, and brute force.
Not all of the protests that have arisen in response to these pipeline projects hinge on environmental concerns, which are significant in and of themselves in light of water and ground contamination due to leaks and spills. Some of the protesters are landowners, simple farmers and homeowners who merely want the government and its corporate partners-in-crime to keep their grubby paws off their personal property.
In Virginia, activists have taken to tree sitting—living for weeks on end in platforms suspended above the ground in trees—as a form of protest over the devastation that is being wrought by these pipelines.
These acts of civil disobedience come at a costly price.
Pipeline and forestry officials have been working hard to make life as difficult as possible for the protesters, allegedly blocking their access to food and water and medical supplies, shining floodlights into the trees at all hours of the night, creating ground disturbances to dislodge their nests, and urging the courts to levy heavy fines for each day that the work to clear the forests for the pipeline is delayed.
Here’s what one resident of Roanoke, Va., wrote to me about the manner in which the Mountain Valley Pipeline is being inflicted on his community:
Our small community has been invaded by private security and a fully militarized local police department. Some families up here have land grants from the King, predating the formation of the Commonwealth. Mountain Valley Pipeline has begun cutting trees and has brought in private military contractors similar to what was used in North Dakota. MVP is only offering to pay pennies on the dollar. They are basically using the power of government to steal this land for private profit. What has ensued was the county positioning a mobile command center right across from my restaurant, and scores of police in full tactical dress being deployed. They wasted no time in hooking up with the MVP private security and a long list of offenses then began against the residents and land owners of Bent Mountain, who now find themselves subject to arrest for walking in their own driveway, taking pictures of the pipeline companies ever-changing survey lines and path of destruction, or in more than one case, for confronting MASKED ARMED MEN ON THEIR PROPERTY IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT. It is AMAZING that nobody has been shot yet! One of my neighbors was accosted on his own back porch by police for photographing the MVP surveyors continually moving the corridor of their easement. I have even had armed private security trespassing on my property miles away in neighboring Floyd County. I am all for infrastructure. However, I am not for the taking of people's private land for profit, using the force and power of government, far outside of the bounds of the Constitution.
It takes a lot of gall to trespass onto someone’s private property, tear up their land, cut down their trees, pollute their air and water, prevent them from moving freely on their own property, threaten them with fines and arrests for challenging the intrusion, and then force them to pay (by way of taxes) to retain ownership of the property or sell it cheaply or at a loss so it can be torn down and used for some purpose that the government deems more beneficial to its bottom line.
That’s how little respect the government has for our rights.
It used to be that you could post a “No Trespassing” sign on your property to send the message that no one could venture onto your private property without your permission. As the Tennessee Supreme Court recognized in State v. Christensen, “a homeowner who posts a ‘No Trespassing’ sign is simply making explicit what the law already recognizes: that persons entering onto another person’s land must have a legitimate reason for doing so or risk being held civilly, or perhaps even criminally, liable for trespass.”
Unfortunately, American taxpayers have become trespassers on their own property thanks to the government’s ongoing land grabs and utter disregard for property rights.
So much for that whole pipedream about one’s home being one’s castle.
When it comes right down to it, the right to property is the first—and last—right, and perhaps the most inherent. The undermining and dissolution of this critical right may well prove to be one of the few things to rouse the American people to action. 
As polls show, Americans have been willing to accept limitations on their rights to free speech, privacy and due process, as well as other important freedoms, in exchange for the phantom promise of security. 
Yet whether they live in a modest two-bedroom walkup in the Bronx or a mansion in Bel Air, Americans have not been quite as willing to barter away their right to property. In this way, we are not so far removed from the revolutionary spirit that saw a ragtag assortment of colonists standing up to the military might of Great Britain.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence marked a new beginning for our nation. It signaled a shift in the balance of power from one in which the people served an elite ruling class to one in which government was instituted to serve the people. The government’s role would not be to create or define the people’s inherent rights but rather to guarantee their protection.
As the Declaration states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The Declaration, which embodied all the passion, outrage and noble ideals of the day, could easily have ended there. But the Founders understood that in order for the newly born nation to survive, it would need more than revolutionary sentiment. It would require a government that existed to serve the people, not itself, and a contract to guarantee basic liberties and bind the union together.
Thus was the U.S. Constitution born in the summer of 1787. It sprang forth from the experiences of a revolutionary generation, still wary of the strong arm of government. And from that wariness came the Bill of Rights. 
The first ten amendments to our Constitution are intended as a blueprint to keep the government in its place, off our backs and away from our property. 
For early Americans, the right to own property was fundamental to all other rights.
Mind you, the term “property” is much more fundamental and personal than just with land ownership. It refers to a kind of sovereignty over one’s life and possessions—especially one’s money.
Again, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” 
Property is grouped in the same category as life and liberty in the Fifth Amendment because it is difficult to enjoy life and liberty without the stability, security and assurances that property provides. Private property, at a minimum, checks governmental power for it provides the citizen a right of space where even government agents cannot intrude without proper authority.
At its core, the American dream is about gaining sovereignty over one’s life and property. Without this sovereignty—this unshakeable guarantee of ownership and dominion, even over one’s own life—there can be no true liberty or freedom. 
This most sacred of rights is under siege.
More than 200 years after early Americans went to war over their right to life, liberty and property, “we the people” have been reduced to little more than serfs in bondage, indentured servants, and sharecroppers.
If the government can tell you what you can and cannot do within the privacy of your home, whether it relates to what you eat, what you smoke or whom you love, you’re not the King or Queen in your little castle. 
If government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you no longer have any property interests in your home.
If school officials can punish your children for what they do or say while at home or in your care, your children are not your own—they are the property of the state.
If government agents can invade your homebreak down your doorskill your dog, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family, your property is no longer private and secure—it belongs to the government.
Likewise, if police can forcefully draw your bloodstrip search you, and probe you intimately, your body is no longer your own, either.
This is what a world without true property rights looks like, where the lines between private and public property have been so blurred that private property is reduced to little more than something the government can use to control, manipulate and harass you to suit its own purposes, and you the homeowner and citizen have been reduced to little more than a tenant in bondage to an inflexible landlord.
In other words, we’re slaves.
If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.
You’re not free if the government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes.
You’re not free if government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing.
And you’re certainly not free if the IRS gets the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.
After all, a government that doesn’t respect the rights of its citizens will have even less regard for their property, be it land, money or personhood.
So where does that leave us?
Battling for our lives, liberties and property.
Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American Peoplethe battle to protect our private property has become the final constitutional frontier, the last holdout against our freedoms being usurped.
Questions about who has ultimate control over our money, how much of it can be claimed by government and how it gets spent go to the heart of the battle over property rights.
Remember, governments generate no wealth on their own. Any resources that they have at their disposal have been appropriated from the original producers of that wealth, the citizens.
This fundamental truth has largely been downplayed over the years, because the government doesn’t want us to remember that it exists to serve at our pleasure and for our common good.
Yet any government that ceases to serve this function risks being declared illegitimate.
It happened once before.
It can happen again.
All it takes is the right spark to start a revolution.


How Not To Get Shot by a Soldier


How Not To Get Shot by a Soldier

The following is intended to serve as a useful guide to various activists, protesters and other completely non-violent folk who happen to be packing knives, guns, rocks and grenades. You will encounter various law enforcement and military personnel-- this is how not to get shot by them.
First of all it's important to remember that if you attack an armed man in a uniform, he will very probably shoot you.

Even given the most restrictive Rules of Engagement in the world which forbid him from opening fire unless he is outnumbered 600 to 1, and only when he has been given specific authorization by the UN to use deadly force-- there will still come a time when he will open fire on you. This will occur when he feels that he or his comrades are in danger. At this point there will be bullets headed your way, and no matter what you learned at your Madrassa or in Protest Studies at Evergreen State High University, you are not bulletproof. Really, you're not.

The good news is that there is a very easy way not to get shot.

Step 1. Don't attack soldiers.

Step 2. When in doubt, see Step 1.

That means not trying to disembowel them with your peaceful knife and not throwing rocks at their head. Because while you might think that legal activism includes attempted murder, the men in uniform think that attempted murder should result in sudden death. And when that happens you will realize that fanatical passion for your poorly thought out cause and a medieval weapon are no match for trained soldiers who have guns and know how to use them.

The thing to remember is that while just about every revolution you read about does involve a crowd of people rushing at armed men, those people usually end up dead or in a lot of pain. You should expect to have the same thing happen to you. Putting on a Kefiyah or a pair of Birkenstocks does not exempt you from the laws of physics, or the code of common sense. Putting your wacky beliefs about a pedophile who rode a flying horse in a dream aside, if you attack someone, you should expect them to respond. And if they have a gun, they will respond with bullets.

At that point you will either become a martyr or the world's ugliest man.

Since the dawn of time, men have guarded the borders of their nations. The border indicates that the lands within are the possession of their tribe and their chieftain. That border may only be crossed with the permission of the laws of the people who rule over it. To cross that border without their permission is to invite war, or at least a shower of arrows, spears or more lately, bullets. To cross that border for hostile purposes is to take your life in your hands. And unless you have an army with you, those hands are slick, greasy and operated by a mind completely devoid of common sense.

Similarly since the dawn of time men have responded blow for blow, rock for rock and fist for fist. If you claim to be non-violent, that may remove from you the risk of suffering preemptive violence, but it does not give you license to engage in violence yourself under the dubious shield of words. Because words are only good for fighting other words. Once you have a weapon out, then you have put words such as "non-violence" or "pacifist" or "youth" aside. You have given up the moral protection of presumed innocence, for a life and death struggle. And if you do not have the stomach for the consequences of that struggle, then you should not raise that knife or that stone. Because there will be no use complaining afterward about disproportionate violence.
It is also written in the codes of common sense, that only the attacker can be guilty of disproportionate violence, not the defender.

It is the business of the defender only to repel you with as little damage to himself as possible. If you have a rock, you should not expect him to put down his gun, and throw rocks at you. And if you have a knife, you should not expect him to set aside his gun for a sharp blade. This is not a duel of honor, but an exchange of force intended to result in injury or death. His business is not to mete out an equivalent level and method of force to yours, but to dispatch you as quickly as possible. Prior to your attack on him, his concern was for your safety. After your attack on him, his concern is only for his own.

What you need to understand is that for you violence is political. To soldiers and law enforcement officers, violence is only a tool. In your mind, your attempt to kill is noble, while his attempt to kill you is vile and cruel. In his mind however there is an equation, violence set against violence.

He does not particularly care what you believe, just that you not attack him while you are believing it. To you he is only a rage puppet in a political or religious narrative. To him, once you attack you are nothing more than a moving target. Understanding this will help you to not get shot. Failing to understand this is how martyrs are made. But the thing about martyrdom is that the health plan is terrible and there's no long term prospects to it at all.

The difference between terrorists and and soldiers, is that terrorists want to kill people, but lack the necessary skills to do it well. While soldiers have the skills to kill people, but would rather not do it. When angry people with rocks, knives, crowbars and a few guns attack trained personnel with guns, the victory goes to the people who are trained to kill, not to those who want to kill. And when the blooded radicals complain about disproportionate force, what they're really doing is whining about how surprisingly hard it is to kill people.

The average radical, lefty or Islamic, is as stupid as he is vicious. His cleverness exhausts itself in invective and rhetoric, which he discovers has surprisingly little application in a firefight. What is left is a would be murderer who rather late in the game discovers that he is trying to kill people, who are better at killing than he is. And that he came woefully unprepared for the encounter. Part of his misguided thinking is the belief that a knife or a rock are more moral weapons than a gun. They are not. A gun is the most moral weapon invented because it is efficient, quick and deadly. Killing a man with a knife is positively horrifying compared to shooting him in the head. Soldiers and law enforcement officers understand this. Subconsciously so do radicals, which is why they long for the knife, the rock and the nail studded bombs. If they kill, they prefer to be brutal and cruel about it.

The terrorist is utterly terrible at the art of war, but excels at the art of making his innocent victims suffer. The soldier dispatches his targets quickly and cleanly. For the terrorist however, inflicting agony is the sadistic purpose of the entire exercise. The suicide bomber gives himself a quick death, while mutilating those in his vicinity. He spreads horror and shock. And of course terror.

But the media finds something awful about the soldier who executes his target with one round to the head, and something faintly heroic about the suicide bomber "making a statement" by taking away the arms of a 13 year old girl. Because the media radicals admire murderous passion, but find something horrible about the detachment of the soldier just doing his job. To kill horribly because of passion is somehow better in their eyes, than to kill cleanly and dispassionately to keep the people around you safe.
But terrorists only exist when they are tolerated. And they are tolerated by people who do not think like soldiers, but think like the media. Who want to find ways of making terrorists less angry, rather than finding ways to make more terrorists dead. Such people write narrowly restrictive rules of engagement, prosecute soldiers for defending themselves, and are outraged when a bullet prevents a massacre, rather than being outraged by the planned massacre instead.

But let us be clear about it. When you pick up a knife or a rock or a gun, you are not facing the politicians or the generals who answer to them. You are facing men who bear you no particular ill will, but do want to get home to their families that night or that month or that week. And if you do anything that risks interfering with that, they will shoot you.

They are just guarding the front lines. They are not politicians. They just have guns and know how to use them. And if you attack them, you will die. And in that moment you will realize that neither your moving poems or your Koran, will do you the least bit of good. Because while you have the passion, they have the training. And the best to not be shot by men trained in the art of violence, is to put down the knife, the rock or the gun and walk the other way. 


Daniel Greenfield


How Not To Get Shot by a Soldier

The following is intended to serve as a useful guide to various activists, protesters and other completely non-violent folk who happen to be packing knives, guns, rocks and grenades. You will encounter various law enforcement and military personnel-- this is how not to get shot by them.
First of all it's important to remember that if you attack an armed man in a uniform, he will very probably shoot you.

Even given the most restrictive Rules of Engagement in the world which forbid him from opening fire unless he is outnumbered 600 to 1, and only when he has been given specific authorization by the UN to use deadly force-- there will still come a time when he will open fire on you. This will occur when he feels that he or his comrades are in danger. At this point there will be bullets headed your way, and no matter what you learned at your Madrassa or in Protest Studies at Evergreen State High University, you are not bulletproof. Really, you're not.

The good news is that there is a very easy way not to get shot.

Step 1. Don't attack soldiers.

Step 2. When in doubt, see Step 1.

That means not trying to disembowel them with your peaceful knife and not throwing rocks at their head. Because while you might think that legal activism includes attempted murder, the men in uniform think that attempted murder should result in sudden death. And when that happens you will realize that fanatical passion for your poorly thought out cause and a medieval weapon are no match for trained soldiers who have guns and know how to use them.

The thing to remember is that while just about every revolution you read about does involve a crowd of people rushing at armed men, those people usually end up dead or in a lot of pain. You should expect to have the same thing happen to you. Putting on a Kefiyah or a pair of Birkenstocks does not exempt you from the laws of physics, or the code of common sense. Putting your wacky beliefs about a pedophile who rode a flying horse in a dream aside, if you attack someone, you should expect them to respond. And if they have a gun, they will respond with bullets.

At that point you will either become a martyr or the world's ugliest man.

Since the dawn of time, men have guarded the borders of their nations. The border indicates that the lands within are the possession of their tribe and their chieftain. That border may only be crossed with the permission of the laws of the people who rule over it. To cross that border without their permission is to invite war, or at least a shower of arrows, spears or more lately, bullets. To cross that border for hostile purposes is to take your life in your hands. And unless you have an army with you, those hands are slick, greasy and operated by a mind completely devoid of common sense.

Similarly since the dawn of time men have responded blow for blow, rock for rock and fist for fist. If you claim to be non-violent, that may remove from you the risk of suffering preemptive violence, but it does not give you license to engage in violence yourself under the dubious shield of words. Because words are only good for fighting other words. Once you have a weapon out, then you have put words such as "non-violence" or "pacifist" or "youth" aside. You have given up the moral protection of presumed innocence, for a life and death struggle. And if you do not have the stomach for the consequences of that struggle, then you should not raise that knife or that stone. Because there will be no use complaining afterward about disproportionate violence.
It is also written in the codes of common sense, that only the attacker can be guilty of disproportionate violence, not the defender.

It is the business of the defender only to repel you with as little damage to himself as possible. If you have a rock, you should not expect him to put down his gun, and throw rocks at you. And if you have a knife, you should not expect him to set aside his gun for a sharp blade. This is not a duel of honor, but an exchange of force intended to result in injury or death. His business is not to mete out an equivalent level and method of force to yours, but to dispatch you as quickly as possible. Prior to your attack on him, his concern was for your safety. After your attack on him, his concern is only for his own.

What you need to understand is that for you violence is political. To soldiers and law enforcement officers, violence is only a tool. In your mind, your attempt to kill is noble, while his attempt to kill you is vile and cruel. In his mind however there is an equation, violence set against violence.

He does not particularly care what you believe, just that you not attack him while you are believing it. To you he is only a rage puppet in a political or religious narrative. To him, once you attack you are nothing more than a moving target. Understanding this will help you to not get shot. Failing to understand this is how martyrs are made. But the thing about martyrdom is that the health plan is terrible and there's no long term prospects to it at all.

The difference between terrorists and and soldiers, is that terrorists want to kill people, but lack the necessary skills to do it well. While soldiers have the skills to kill people, but would rather not do it. When angry people with rocks, knives, crowbars and a few guns attack trained personnel with guns, the victory goes to the people who are trained to kill, not to those who want to kill. And when the blooded radicals complain about disproportionate force, what they're really doing is whining about how surprisingly hard it is to kill people.

The average radical, lefty or Islamic, is as stupid as he is vicious. His cleverness exhausts itself in invective and rhetoric, which he discovers has surprisingly little application in a firefight. What is left is a would be murderer who rather late in the game discovers that he is trying to kill people, who are better at killing than he is. And that he came woefully unprepared for the encounter. Part of his misguided thinking is the belief that a knife or a rock are more moral weapons than a gun. They are not. A gun is the most moral weapon invented because it is efficient, quick and deadly. Killing a man with a knife is positively horrifying compared to shooting him in the head. Soldiers and law enforcement officers understand this. Subconsciously so do radicals, which is why they long for the knife, the rock and the nail studded bombs. If they kill, they prefer to be brutal and cruel about it.

The terrorist is utterly terrible at the art of war, but excels at the art of making his innocent victims suffer. The soldier dispatches his targets quickly and cleanly. For the terrorist however, inflicting agony is the sadistic purpose of the entire exercise. The suicide bomber gives himself a quick death, while mutilating those in his vicinity. He spreads horror and shock. And of course terror.

But the media finds something awful about the soldier who executes his target with one round to the head, and something faintly heroic about the suicide bomber "making a statement" by taking away the arms of a 13 year old girl. Because the media radicals admire murderous passion, but find something horrible about the detachment of the soldier just doing his job. To kill horribly because of passion is somehow better in their eyes, than to kill cleanly and dispassionately to keep the people around you safe.
But terrorists only exist when they are tolerated. And they are tolerated by people who do not think like soldiers, but think like the media. Who want to find ways of making terrorists less angry, rather than finding ways to make more terrorists dead. Such people write narrowly restrictive rules of engagement, prosecute soldiers for defending themselves, and are outraged when a bullet prevents a massacre, rather than being outraged by the planned massacre instead.

But let us be clear about it. When you pick up a knife or a rock or a gun, you are not facing the politicians or the generals who answer to them. You are facing men who bear you no particular ill will, but do want to get home to their families that night or that month or that week. And if you do anything that risks interfering with that, they will shoot you.

They are just guarding the front lines. They are not politicians. They just have guns and know how to use them. And if you attack them, you will die. And in that moment you will realize that neither your moving poems or your Koran, will do you the least bit of good. Because while you have the passion, they have the training. And the best to not be shot by men trained in the art of violence, is to put down the knife, the rock or the gun and walk the other way. 


Daniel Greenfield